An historic hotel in Huntington serves as the backdrop for a local couple’s celebration.

Jill Elizabeth Lansden & Samuel David Ashley | Huntington | 7.7.18 | Photographed by The Oberports

Before Jill Lansden and Sam Ashley knew they were meant to fall in love—much less with each other—the couple was paired to walk down the aisle at the wedding of their mutual friends, Pam and Chip Ferrell. They’d met several times before, while Sam and Chip were attending West Virginia University and Pam and Jill attended Marshall. Chip would often visit Pam on the weekends, and Sam would sometimes tag along. “It was really a secret plan by Pam and Chip to set us up,” Jill says. Aside from smiles and laughter captured by video as they marched down the aisle, the two remember few details of that day in August 2013 and their encounters before then. Yet, those moments changed everything.


After the wedding, the two kept in touch by text and phone calls. Sam, a recent graduate, was starting his engineering career in California while Jill attended law school in Morgantown. After a few visits, the two realized they were falling for each other. “We were 23, 24 at the time and he had his life together and a plan for the future,” Jill said. “I liked that.”

“I loved her first”
Before getting engaged, Jill jokingly told Sam that she hoped he would never propose on a holiday or birthday—when she would likely expect it. Little did she know, Sam had a plan to catch her off guard, and he did. One typical Thursday evening after work, Jill put dinner on the stove and made her way into the bedroom of their apartment to change. On the bed she noticed flowers and a gift. She hollered for Sam, who came running up the steps with the couple’s golden retriever, Marley. Sam asked Jill to unwrap the gift, a sign which read, “I loved her first.” He pointed to Marley—the pup Jill had adopted only months before the couple started dating—and retrieved a ring from his pocket.


Keeping it Close to Home
Both West Virginia natives, Sam and Jill chose to host the wedding in their home state. They looked in Charleston at the Capitol and then visited The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs. However, when it was time to decide, they chose to stay close to their home in Huntington.

Like their engagement, every touch of Jill and Sam’s wedding was simple and personal. Jill wore a sheath wedding dress with a floor-length veil, and her bridesmaids each chose a navy floor-length gown made of chiffon. Jill’s mother, Gayle, embroidered a blue hankie with words from her favorite childhood book and, for good luck, she placed a penny in Jill’s shoe—the same coin

Gayle’s father had placed in her shoe at her own wedding. Sam and the groomsmen wore traditional black tuxedos, and the groom donned his grandfather’s cufflinks.

Marley wasn’t without her own special piece of the day. She posed for pictures with the couple in Ritter Park wearing a “Dog of Honor” bandana, also embroidered by Gayle.

Simple, Traditional
Their wedding ceremony took place at Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church. Jill was escorted down the aisle by her father, Lanny, as a pianist played a traditional wedding march. The two exchanged vows and lit a unity candle as an instrumental version of “The Luckiest” by Ben Folds played in the background. Walking down the aisle together as husband and wife for the first time, the two smiled and laughed—a lot like the first time.

For the reception, the couple chose The Frederick—a neoclassical-style building in downtown Huntington. A bustling hotel in its heyday, The Frederick is now home to businesses, apartments, restaurants, and retail stores. Its style is still traditional with red carpet and gold accents.

The two chose to play “Someone Like You” by Van Morrison for their first dance and chose a simple three-tiered cake with white icing and flowers from Kristen’s Cake Creations.

The wedding happened to fall on Sam’s grandmother Kathleen Ashley’s 91st birthday, and the entire party celebrated with song and a cupcake. For both Sam and Jill, this family touch is what made the day so special. “This was more for our families,” Jill says. “Looking back, that’s probably one of my favorite parts of the wedding; it’s probably the only time in our lives we’ll have those people together in the same room celebrating with us.”

written by Jennifer Gardner
photographed by The Oberports

Bride’s Parents
Gayle & Lanny Lansden
Groom’s Parents
Anita & Robert Ashley
Bride’s Gown
Bridal & Formal, Cincinnati, OH
Bridesmaids’ Dresses
Groom’s Attire
Groomsmen’s Attire
JoS. A. Bank, Huntington
Garrison Designs Florist & Interiors, Huntington
The 21 Club Catering, Huntington
Kristen’s Cake Creations, Milton
DJ Nick Scott, Charleston
Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church, Huntington
The Frederick, Huntington